Finding Common Ground

A couple of weeks ago an idea was planted into my head.  It’s an idea I feel is very important to share and one that really resonated with me.  I was watching a dance video (something I spend hours doing) and the artist of the song, Yasmine Yousaf, said something to the class that really got me thinking.  She said, “Right now it’s a really weird time in the world so it’s cool to see a bunch of people to come together and dance, and that is the unifying thing in this room right now, and nobody is thinking about anything crazy that is happening in the world”.  As soon as I heard this a revelation took place in my mind.  I realized how much we all have in common with each other and how often that is ignored.  In these dance videos I watch it’s very common to see a deeply diverse group of people.  But when I’m in the moment watching the video, I’m not thinking about how they identify or what color their skin is.  I am only watching the creative expression of dance.  Our love for dance is the common ground between me and the dancers.  It creates a community and a family for all these people.  It lets them come together and enjoy one another’s presence and just dance.   

This whole idea of common ground got me thinking about why there are so many divides in our society when we have so much in common.  So I started watching the people around me and listening to the words that came out of their mouth.  I noticed how often people make offhand comments meant to be funny, but actually created a barrier.  For instance, when people make a joke talking about an African-American person in a disrespectful way they are automatically creating a barrier between themselves and that black person.  That in turn leads to a ripple effect.  The barrier you create does not only affect you, but ends up affecting society as a whole by creating a stereotype.  When you look all the way back to see why this divide was created in the first place you will find that it was due to someone’s skin color.  I mean of all things… you pick a person’s skin color.  What could be more superficial than that?

I also feel as though I am starting to get an idea of what these divides feed off of.  Take our President for example.  Mr. Trump is the leader of our country and sets the tone of our country for the next four years.  During the time of the Obama Administration I felt we made so much progress.  Our first black President, LGBTQ+ marriage rights, increased support for Veterans, etc.  The list goes on and on and that is how it should be.  As time goes by, our society should be constantly progressing to bridge the gaps.  However, listening to some of the hateful things President Trump has to say I wonder if he is setting the correct tone for our nation.  

This is one of the many reasons why finding common ground is that much more important.  Just as Yasmine Yousaf said, there are definitely some crazy things happening in our world and the more we can do to band together, the stronger we will become.

Through the course of just these few weeks I have found that finding common ground is not only easy, but exceedingly rewarding.  It allows you to meet people you never thought you would meet and learn new things you never thought you would learn.  Often times it only requires a few minutes and a simple conversation about what you and the other person are interested in.  I will let you know, however, that it’s not always easy to bridge gaps.  Sometimes it can feel like there is an entire ocean between you and someone else.  Often times this ocean is just created by what society says is “normal”.  Who you should and shouldn’t be friends with, who you should and shouldn’t eat lunch with, etc.  It can be hard to escape from these boxes we have been confined to.  But I promise once you escape there is no going back.  You will wonder why you didn’t start seeing with your heart and not your eyes sooner.

Now let’s get real for a moment.  I’m not putting this all on you to fix.  Many stereotypes and barriers were hard woven into our society way before you were even born.  However, what you do to bridge these gaps matters.  I know you might feel extremely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of divides in our world, but every little change leads to bigger and better changes in the future.  Set an example for the people who come after you.  Finding the common ground among your fellow humans is very eye-opening and very healing.  I don’t know about you, but when I find out someone is really into something I’m into, it is like we are instantly best friends.  Another person to lean on, to laugh with, and to trust.  It brings another person into your community and family.  

So I challenge you to meet someone new.  Say hi to someone you normally wouldn’t and find out what you have in common with them because every little barrier you conquer leads us closer and closer to a more wonderful world.  There is always common ground between you and someone new.  Sometimes you just have to work a little harder to find it.  Comment down below what you do to find common ground and bridge gaps.  Remember everything you do to make this world a better place is important.

If you have anything meaningful to add, feel free to leave a comment and make the world a better place.  If you enjoyed this post and want to keep bringing joy and happiness to yours and other’s lives, subscribe to The Kindness Revolution.  I will be posting monthly blogs!

Everyone has the power to make the world a better place, use your power wisely.

-Olivia

 

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What’s the Difference

The essential question I will ask you to think upon today is, “What’s the difference?”  I know that is a pretty vague question that could leave you making your own inquiries.  However, let me just clarify, when I ask “What’s the difference?” I’m asking you to apply this question to the human race.  I am fortunate enough to live in a place filled with different cultures, religions, foods, and skin colors.  Ever since I was a little girl my parents have been very encouraging towards me learning about these different ethnicities.  I feel that this openness and exposure to so many unique people has led me to become the person I am today and I am so grateful for that.  During some of my travels around the country I have met people who are not as fortunate as me, and during the course of their lives haven’t been in contact with so many different ethnical groups.

Acceptance is a word often used when discussing differences.  However, I think we need to really examine the definition of acceptance. According to Google the definition is; the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable.  I do not think that is enough.  I do not think we should think of people as adequate or suitable.  People are extraordinary beings.  To me that sounds like tolerating a group of people, not truly accepting them.  In my mind accepting a person or a group people can only happen when that person or group of people is seen for what they have on the “inside”, not the petty details.  Think about it this way, when you are looking to make friends do you look for people with only the same eye color as you?  No you don’t, because it’s a superficial detail.  Your religion and skin color are details just as superficial as your eye color.

The first step to true acceptance is to learn to respect people regardless of the petty details.  You may find yourself asking a tough question.  Do I respect people regardless of the petty details? It is hard to ask yourself this truthful question and I understand that because I had to ask myself that question too.  The answer was not a black and white yes or no.  I realized I definitely had some prejudices acquired from school and the media.  However, I also realized that due to my diverse upbringing and my parent’s encouragement I, myself, had become a more open person.  There is definitely still room for improvement.  I know that.

Once you learn this real world respect you will find yourself open to so many more opportunities in your life.  So many more friends, events, jobs.  The list is really endless.  I have also discovered something else about being accepting, you learn a lot about yourself.  In different religions and races they are different traditions and beliefs.  When you take the time to become familiar with these different traditions and beliefs you will start to question your own morals and points of view.  Questioning what you believe is a huge part of self-growth that I feel is necessary to become the kind of person you want to be.  The things you will learn from acceptance are things you won’t learn from a teacher in a classroom.  They are truly very special life lessons.

So I sit here and tell you all these amazing things about being accepting and you might be wondering why everyone doesn’t jump right into this whole acceptance thing.  Well, it’s hard.  We have been taught from a very young age that being different is great.  However, our media constantly sends us subliminal messages about fitting in and being the same.  Over time these subliminal messages take over our desire to be different.  We find comfort in hiding in a sea of people who are the same.  I cannot count the number of times I see people being treated awfully because they are different.  Well let me ask you this.  People that fit in where you live could just as easily stick out somewhere else.  There is no perfect secret to fitting in.  There is no password to get into the club.  As teenagers we seem to find so much joy in being the same and receiving the approval of our peers.  When we place so much value of being the same, it becomes increasingly harder to accept people regardless of their differences.  So, as you may have concluded already yourself, sacrificing the person you are to fit in is definitely not the answer.

As I finish up this post I want you to consider this quote by George Orwell, “Happiness can exist only in acceptance”.  I also want to challenge you to look inside yourself and decide what type of person you want to be.  Start by placing more value in yourself and less on fitting in.  Every time you begin to form a prejudiced thought in your mind, stop and think about what this person would feel like if you said these words to their face.  Your thoughts are just as important as the words that come out of your mouth because eventually those thoughts will become the words coming out of your mouth.  Ask yourself what is the difference.  A simple question with an even simpler answer, nothing.  There is no difference.

Leave a comment below what you will do to place more value in yourself and less on fitting in.  I know you can do it!

If you have anything meaningful to add, feel free to leave a comment and make the world a better place.  If you enjoyed this post and want to keep bringing joy and happiness to yours and others’ lives, subscribe to The Kindness Revolution.  I will be posting monthly blogs!

Everyone has the power to make the world a better place, use your power wisely.

-Olivia

 

 

What You Say Matters

What you say matters.  I’m sure you’ve heard that actions speak louder than words.  But words have just as much power.  I think Yehuda Berg said it best, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”  I think that too often people, especially kids, forget the power of their words.  One sentence, barely a whisper into an ear of a friend can change someone’s life into a living nightmare.  You think I’m being dramatic?  There are kids who take their own lives because of things people have said to them.  You have been given the power of words.  But with great power, comes great responsibility.  I watch people toss out insults to people that are supposedly their “friends” like it’s no big deal.  Finding out your friend said some nasty comment about you is like taking a knife to the chest.  You can’t breathe, you just want to give up.  Life is tough, I get that.  It can’t always be sunshine and daises, but that’s what your friends are supposed to be for.  To lift you up and take your mind off the hardships.  I can’t say I have been a perfect friend.  I’ve gossiped and talked about people behind their backs.  However, after a while it was starting to break me down, I felt sick whenever I saw the victim of the gossip and I felt awful. What had this person done to deserve the attack of words?

I decided I needed a change.  It’s hard and it doesn’t happen overnight.  In fact I am still working on it right now, but the fact that I’m aware of my actions and I am making an attempt has to count for something right?  I challenge you, start becoming aware of the words coming out of your mouth.  What do they say about you?  Do you really want to be known as the girl or the guy who is always trashing people?  I didn’t think so.  My favorite quote of all time that I always try to live by goes like this, “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind.”  It’s true, I used to think some people’s lives were perfect.  In my mind, they were the ideal person.  I thought it didn’t matter what I said about them because they were untouchable.  I was wrong, very wrong.  Everyone, every single last person you know, has struggles and tough times.  The words I said didn’t help them or me.  Those words only caused hurt, backlash, and the loss of friendship.

That’s my next point, when ugly words come out of your mouth do they help you?  Do they gain you more friends or make you more popular?  Sometimes the sad truth is being mean helps you stay popular.  So to that I have to ask, is that really what you want?  Changing the way you talk about people has to do a lot with self-reflection.  You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and admit to yourself truthfully if you think you could change the way you talk.  I know it’s hard to admit you are hurting other people, especially your friends, but it is necessary in order to become a better person.  I know this whole process might seem a bit overwhelming, but remember the race is won in inches, not miles.  It’s really the little changes you make to your words and attitude that are the most important.  For example, let’s say you start by giving one genuine compliment to someone you might not on a regular basis.  That’s a start.  But let me tell you the most important thing you can do, or really not do.  And that’s gossip.  Trust me, it’s really hard, but not impossible.  Next time you are with a group of people and they start gossiping about someone else, don’t participate, or change the subjects, or if you really want to make a difference stand up for the person.  Tell them you don’t understand why they need to gossip and ask them how they would feel if someone else was gossiping about them.  That’s when you know you’ve really made a difference.

Hopefully you’ve made it to the end of this post because there is one more important thing I would like to share with you.  We all make mistakes and there will be times when you say something you wish you didn’t.  That’s ok, the most important part is that you learn from your mistakes and you always take the time to think about how your words make others feel.  Remember, just like Yehuda Berg said, words have an incredible power to help and to harm.  It is up to you how you use them.  Be strong and use your words to help.  What you say matters.

If you have anything meaningful to add, feel free to leave a comment and make the world a better place.  If you enjoyed this post and want to keep bringing joy and happiness to yours and others’ lives, subscribe to The Kindness Revolution at the bottom of the page!  I will be posting monthly blogs!

Everyone has the power to make the world a better place, use your power wisely.

-Olivia